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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Value-Added'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Value-Added'" by J.C. Duffy.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Talking about death
Can be fun, cool, and timely.
Don't fear the reaper.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

4. A Silver Lining In Lower ACA Exchange Enrollment?

In other health law news, The Hill reports on a Commonwealth Fund study concluding that many insurers still see opportunities in the marketplace. News outlets also report on related developments in Florida, North Carolina and Delaware.

Modern Healthcare: Why Lower ACA Exchange Enrollment May Not Be A Bad Thing
The federal government cheered the 2016 open-enrollment period as more than 12.7 million Americans signed up for health insurance, but a closer look at the data reveals that many individual counties recorded precipitous annual declines in plan selections. That's not entirely worrisome news though, because people may have picked up health insurance from Medicaid, employers or other sources. Those numbers also show how closely linked state Medicaid programs and the Affordable Care Act's individual marketplaces are, given that many exchange enrollees are low income. (Herman, 6/2)

The Hill: Study: Most Insurers Not Looking To Exit ObamaCare
Most insurers are not discussing exiting ObamaCare marketplaces and some could in fact could grow their participation, according to a new analysis. The Commonwealth Fund reviewed insurer earnings calls to get a broader picture of experiences on the healthcare marketplaces, after the attention given to United Healthcare dropping out of many states. The analysis found that only one other insurer, Humana, explicitly said it is considering exiting ObamaCare marketplaces in 2017. (Sullivan, 6/2)

The Wall Street Journal: North Carolina Blue Cross And Blue Shield Sues U.S. Over Health-Care Payments
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina sued the federal government, becoming the latest health insurer to claim it is owed money under the Affordable Care Act. The suit, filed on Thursday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., says the U.S. failed to live up to obligation to pay the insurer more than $147 million owed under an ACA program known as “risk corridors,” which aimed to limit the financial risks borne by insurers entering the new health-law markets. (Wilde Mathews, 6/2)

The Associated Press: Insurers In Delaware Exchange Seek Steep Rate Increases
Insurance companies participating in Delaware’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act are seeking average rate increases of about 24 percent or more for next year, state officials revealed Thursday in acknowledging the potential sticker shock for consumers. In a rate filing with the Delaware Department of Insurance, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware is asking for an average rate increase of 32.5 percent for individual plans. Rate increases would vary by plan and would range from 24.1 percent to 35.8 percent. (Chase, 6/2)

Meanwhile, in California -

Los Angeles Times: Immigrants Here Illegally Could Have Chance To Buy Health Coverage If Brown Signs Legislation
The state Senate on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure that would ask for federal approval to allow immigrants in the country illegally to purchase their own health insurance through the Covered California exchange. State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said his bill may lead to an estimated 390,000 immigrants who earn an income too high to qualify for Medi-Cal to fully pay for healthcare coverage through the state exchange under the Affordable Care Act. (McGreevy, 6/2)

Administration News

5. Solicitor General Who Won Landmark Obamacare Case Stepping Down

Donald Verrilli Jr.'s two most important wins will most likely be remembered as the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and its decision last year declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

The New York Times: Donald Verrilli Will Step Down As U.S. Solicitor General
The Justice Department announced on Thursday that Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who won historic Supreme Court rulings for the Obama administration on its signature health care law and on same-sex marriage, would be stepping down as the nation’s top appellate lawyer. Mr. Verrilli, 58, has been the solicitor general for five years, arguing the administration’s position before the justices during an unusual wave of contentious cases that drew attention far outside the legal world. (Lichtblau, 6/2)

The Associated Press: Justice Lawyer Who Defended Obamacare At High Court Leaving
The top Justice Department official who defended the president's health care law at the Supreme Court is leaving his job. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. is ending his five-year tenure as the administration's chief lawyer at the high court, President Barack Obama said in a statement Thursday. "Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care," Obama said. (6/2)

The Washington Post: U.S. Solicitor General Is Stepping Down
Verrilli, the 46th solicitor general, had served as the country’s top appellate lawyer and advocate before the Supreme Court since 2011. He took over for Elena Kagan after her appointment as a justice. The 58-year-old spearheaded a number of high-profile cases, notably defending the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell case and winning over a majority of the justices in Obergefell v. Hodges that the 14th Amendment required that same-sex marriages be recognized across the country. He had earlier won a case declaring unconstitutional a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. (Zapotosky and Barnes, 6/2)

Fox News: DOJ Lawyer Who Defended ObamaCare To Step Down
"Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care; we’re combatting discrimination so that more women and minorities can own their piece of the American Dream; we’ve reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly; and our children will now grow up in a country where everyone has the freedom to marry the person they love," Obama said in the statement. (6/2)

Campaign 2016

6. Fact Checker: Trump's Mixed Up Obamacare Calendar

The Associated Press looks at Donald Trump's claims that the administration plans to keep consumers in the dark about premium increases for 2017 until after the election.

The Associated Press Fact Checker: Trumped-Up Charge On 'Obamacare' Premiums
Donald Trump says the Obama administration plans to keep consumers in the dark about premium increases for 2017 under the president's health care law — for political reasons. But the administration says next year's sign-up season is going forward on schedule, and insurers say they've seen no indication of a delay. "The numbers are coming out, right now, the numbers are scheduled to come out on November 1. The increases are going to be so large that everybody is going to vote for Donald Trump. It's a catastrophe," the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said Wednesday at a rally in Sacramento. (6/3)

In other news, the Susan B. Anthony list is campaigning aggressively against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the North Carolina primary —